March 14, 2012

god gave you her?

ok, so here's the deal. god didn't give you her. texts, phone calls, the simple fact that your parents decided to live near each other when you were younger, your persistence that she is the one, the only, the perfect person in the world since you were 5--that's what gave you her.

because your god? if he did this? he's a mean little boy with a magnifying glass and the rest of us are very warm ants on the brink of combusting.

Posted by michelle at 11:36 AM | Comments (0)

March 20, 2011

Some things are sacred

Joss? You are going to try and throw Christianity up against Joss and get it to stick? No. You can and should look at Firefly and Serenity through whatever lens you would like--that's all well and good. However, to skew theories and concepts by cherry-picking out of context examples and trying to make them fit into Christian theologies when the point has clearly and repeatedly been made that the characters and the writer are not Christian is insulting and smacks of grad student over-theorizing.
Firefly and Serenity would make excellent examples of Post-Colonial theory or Gender theory, possibly dozens of others. I've often considered researching linguistic theory and changes to modern language that resulted from the pop culture phenomenon of Buffy. But Mal as a Christian? No. Citing that Mal makes moral choices does not make him Christian. In fact, I would argue that part of the point that Joss is making in the creation of a character like Mal, is that morality does not necessitate the existence of a "sky bully." Mal has a very strong, individual belief system--a moral compass. His actions are guided and driven by this code of beliefs and it is not in any way a religiously inspired value system. On the contrary, Mal points out over and over that he does not believe in religion or God.
Mal: If I'm your mission, Shepherd, best give it up. You're welcome on my boat. God ain't (The Train Job)
In much the same way, pointing out the existence of evil in its characters or premise does not provide proof that there must exist a deity that either created or condemns such behaviors or situations.
One of Joss' strong suits as a writer/director is that he creates characters that do not easily fit stereotypes--Joss forces people to see gray areas between good/evil. Is Mal a good man? Certainly he cares for his crew, he has a strong code that he follows, he does what he feels is right, he is not a self-centered character. We want to like Mal. The audience is supposed to like Mal. Now, carefully look at the those qualities and apply them to The Operative. He too cares for his crew, has a strong code that he follows, does what he feels to be right and is not portrayed as self-centered or acting for his own good or benefit. Joss' most frightening villains are those who believe unquestioningly in their purpose--those who do not question. Is Mal a hero? Absolutely but he is not necessarily always the good guy. He is, after all, a thief and an outlaw and we love him more for it.
Mal. Bad. In the Latin. River, in The Train Job
Joss wants you to think. This is not theology. These are not biblical notions of good and evil. These shows would crumble in a second if they were hampered by such simplistic ideological bunk. These shows--and I will include in here, Buffy, Angel, Firefly, Dollhouse and Dr Horrible--all succeed because the characters are not simplistic. Of all of these characters, Buffy comes the closest to being a hero archetype and she was a female, teenage, often whiny, rebellious cheerleader. Angel? Spike? Echo? Mal? Captain Hammer? Dr Horrible? They are all more complex characters either for integrity of story, complexity of narrative or sheer campiness.

Back to Firefly--watch Jaynestown. Watch the interactions between River and Shepherd Book. Watch those interactions paralleled with the misguided worship of a "hero" by people who just need something to cling to when they are forced to live in an oppressive situation--when they are desperate for hope they will believe what they want in the face of evidence to the contrary.
If you are looking for good/evil certainly you can take away examples from Joss' work but it isn't always as black and white as it would appear and it isn't always the heroes that are good or the villians that are evil. This show is not a show that lends itself as a shining example of Christian ethics, beliefs and morality. Some things are sacred. Firefly is one of those things.
/rant

Link to the original articles (as referenced in Whedonesque) given in extended entry.

http://politicaljesus.com/2011/02/18/firefly1/
http://politicaljesus.com/2011/02/28/firefly2/

Posted by michelle at 08:51 AM | Comments (0)

March 03, 2011

Why do I keep reading?

I mentioned that I was watching the Truth Project and I promise that I will post my thoughts and a detailed reaction soon. However, this morning I apparently feel the need to just repeatedly smack my head against the desk. I cannot for the life of me understand how someone can so purposefully and willingly twist and distort statistics, quotes and information to suit his own purpose. And more frighteningly than that, to do it in the guise of a kindly leader who hates to share such upsetting information with his followers but simply must.

And yet? I keep reading it. I read more and more until I can't stop wanting to scream--until I am so upset that people can willingly close their minds and listen to this without questioning or looking beyond the limited and skewed information that is being presented. I am not even asking that people change their belief systems or world view. That's not the point at all. What I do wish however is that they would question such subjective information, question, learn and think for themselves. At the end of that, if they still believe what they believe then they are stronger for it. Me? I cannot look at the information presented and say "I know it makes no sense but I choose to believe it anyway."
I choose to look further than surface information. The appearance of something does not make it so.

If you have a need to bang your head against something this morning here is the blog.

I am going to take a break. My head hurts from vigorous head-shaking, eye-rolling and general banging against the proverbial wall.

Posted by michelle at 08:51 AM | Comments (0)

October 29, 2008

Thanks Brad

for confirming the title of this blog. Obviously, you guys won because Jesus hates the Rays.

Gah.

Posted by michelle at 10:03 PM | Comments (0)

October 15, 2007

tiny tv evangelists

Did anyone else watch this week's Kid Nation? Basically this show is the youth version of Survivor. Nothing unexpected. But this week's assignment in the never ending process of reviving and maintaining the ghost town was to establish a religious service.

If I weren't as cynical I would ask why. But the answer is simple--ratings. It's obvious that religion would be one of the easiest ways to stir up tensions. Look at next week's political campaigns as another example. Obviously, they are trying to get more interesting television.

What I saw though wasn't heartening or uplifting. It was sad and divisive. Kids, who are way too young to have formed their own opinions on spirituality, were being bigoted and close minded and spewing out cliched bits of intolerance and religion.

Some of them were very adamant about not wanting to be in a room with people of other beliefs. I will give credit to the few who seemed genuinely interested in learning about others traditions and beliefs, there were a few. But in general, it seemed more about proving who was right and not being willing to mix together. There was a lot of fear--fear of being exposed to something "dangerous," fear of having to define their ideas and not just label themselves, fear of doing something "wrong."

Odd, isn't it, that they didn't want to mix because they knew that religion would make them fight. One of the biggest arguments against an ecumenical service was that it would cause fighting amongst the kids. Why? Why should it cause fighting?

The producers obviously went out of their way to assure a well mixed group of kids in regards to race, religion and socio-economic backgrounds. I get it. It makes for better tv. But what is truly disheartening is the fact that at such a young age they are already parroting not only beliefs, which is fairly typical without exposure to varied ideals, but bigotry and intolerance. Is that what these families are teaching as part of religion?

The atheist girl, and yes, we were represented as well, was questioned in a very typical way. In a "I don't see why you are getting upset that we have to pray" sort of way. While I wish that she also would have been open to learning about the other kids customs, I am not surprised that enforced religion, of any kind, ecumenical or not, was offensive.

In the end, a small group of kids had an open prayer meeting where each took turns sharing a typical prayer from their family/culture/religion. It was a nice thing for them and a fairly adult move. Their parents should be proud of them.

The show's climatic moment--where they choose between two prizes--was a little odd. The kids could have either had a free full scale mini-golf course or a set of religious texts. After a vote, the kids chose the religious texts. Really? If it was that important you wouldn't have brought it along? Do you need the texts to connect spiritually? Were you afraid of some "punishment" if you chose golf over bibles?

This started a discussion at my house. My youngest wanted to know what we religion we were. Although we discuss spiritual ideas all the time I guess he felt he needed an identifier. I told him he could be whatever he wanted to be, whatever he felt suited him best but that his parents choice was that we didn't believe in organized religion. I explained that we would take him to services or answer any questions that he had. But in the end, sadly, he said, "Yeah, but are we Jewish or Christian?" Divisive. And upsetting that this seemed merely a polarized decision. Either this or that. Black or white. Right or wrong. There are so many more choices, shades and variations. Why should just two or three or four, etc. have to stand for everyone?

Posted by michelle at 11:10 AM | Comments (0)